THE NAKED THEOLOGIAN OR “DONALD WHERE’S YER TROOSERS?”

The following was written in the West Highland Free Press by Rev. Professor Donald McLeod of the Free Church. He was in effect, sacked for writing it; rightly so, in my opinion.

All minorities prefer to keep a low profile and avoid trouble. Generations of British Muslims have done exactly that, many have made an invaluable contribution to British society, and many are perfectly prepared to listen quietly while Christians ‘witness’ to them. But when minorities become majorities, things change, as German Jews discovered in the 1930s. Once the Nazis achieved ascendancy, friendly German neighbours suddenly became informants for the Gestapo; and in the event of Islamic dominance in Britain our friendly Muslim shopkeepers will have little option but to march behind the radicals.

Have we any protection? Tighter immigration controls bring their own complications. We cannot close our doors on asylum-seekers simply because they’re Muslims, nor can we set up border-controls which specifically target Muslims. That would simply raise the level of Islamic paranoia, and they already have countless spokesmen prepared to ‘explain’ that if Muslims behead a soldier it’s no more than a natural response to the way they were treated in school.”

Readers will see that there are no facts here, just the naked fears and prejudices of a sadly weakened intellect. There is absolutely no evidence that British Muslims will allow an influx of extreme radicals to tell them what to do, far less of the inability of the UK or Scottish societies to resist religious totalitarianism. I was once privileged to hear the late Pastor Martin Niemoeller say that he had expected only evangelical Christians would be able to stand against evil, but in Nazi prison camp he found a vast mixture of fellow resisters, many of them communist atheists, as well as liberal Christians whom he’d always despised. McLeod’s contempt for secular society is evident in his paranoia.

And yes, of course, good Muslims are defined by whether they are prepared to “listen quietly” while Christians make their witness to them. They mustn’t feel insulted, or resentful, that representatives of a society that so recently ruled theirs by imperial force, or invaded theirs illegally with the USA, should preach to them about the Prince of Peace. And doubtless they mustn’t reply by sending their missionaries into Christian communities to reach the young people whom Christianity has so miserably failed.

McLeod’s injured innocence, projected in his blogs and in interviews, is surely false: you can’t compare a whole religious community to Nazis and expect a decent newspaper to treat it simply as an interesting minority opinion.

The saddest aspect of McLeod’s diatribe is that it could have been written by any red-necked rabble – rouser, when the least you could expect of a distinguished Professor of theology was some evidence that he had studied Islam or could cite chapter and verse from the Qur’an.

I am not tolerant of intolerance and am fiercely opposed to certain strains of Islamic belief and practice. It is at least arguable that the United Nations may have to resist certain Islamic Groups by force. But as regards our own civil society I think that the most effective opposition to violent Islam is our maintenance of an open and pluralist society, combined with neighbourliness towards Muslim and other religious communities in our midst. We should be able to persuade the vast majority of people that freedom under such laws is preferable to being told what to do by crazed ayatollahs, or supposing a Christian revival, by crazed Presbyteries of the Free Church.

As regards violent religious faith whether Christian, Muslim or Hindu, however, I think that the most effective opposition is radical discipleship of Jesus, the crucified Messiah, who commanded love for enemies, lived by it and died by it.

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